Faculty of Social Sciences

Notable Alumni

We are very proud of the many world renowned social scientists who started their careers studying right here at the University of Nottingham. 

Below are some of the stories of the people who have gone on to change the world through their achievements, pioneering work and research.

Mary Marsh

Dame Mary Marsh (Geography)

Founding Director of the Clore Social Leadership Programme

Dame Mary Marsh has spent a lifetime championing children and young people.

She graduated from Nottingham with a Geography degree in 1968 and her many achievements were recognised by the University of Nottingham with an honorary degree in 2005. She is also an Honorary President of the Students' Union at the University.

In the 2007 New Year's Honours List she was awarded the DBE for her services to families and children and she was also mentioned in a book published that year listing the 200 most inspirational women in the world.

She spent the majority of her early career in teaching and headship. At the same time she was a Board member of the Government agency BECTa (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) and member of a number of working groups with the Government on issues including social inclusion, citizenship, the curriculum, business links and ICT. She is also a national member of the Learning and Skills Council.

Dame Mary was Director and Chief Executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) from 2000 to 2008. She left the organisation to become the first Director of the new Clore Social Leadership Programme, launched by the Clore Duffield Foundation to identify and develop aspiring charity leaders.

Dame Mary played an active role at the helm of the NSPCC. In 2001, she helped to set up the inter-agency group that brings together senior representatives of the statutory and voluntary agencies working with children in England. This group actively contributed to the development of the 'Every Child Matters' agenda in regular consultation with civil servants and ministers.


Alexander McLean

Alexander McLean (Law)

UK Charity Volunteer of the Year and National 'Graduate of the Year'

At the age of just 19, while studying at the University of Nottingham, Alexander McLean spent his Easter and Summer holidays working in a youth prison in Sierra Leone.

He then started a farming project and helped in the renovation of cells and the library at a maximum security prison in Uganda. He has also helped to renovate a 90-bed infirmary at a Kenyan prison and created a 37,000-book library.

His African Prisons Project works to alleviate the suffering of men, women and children who are prisoners in Africa. The biggest areas of concern are neglect, malnutrition, poor healthcare and hygiene, as well as overcrowding.

His tireless works, often carried in out in dangerous circumstances, have won him a string of awards. He was named University of Nottingham Recent Alumnus of the Year in 2007, UK Charity Volunteer of the Year in 2006, and he won the 2007 Beacon Prize Overall Winner (previous winners include Sir Bob Geldof) and the Real World National Graduate of the Year in the same year.

Other accolades include being treasurer and vice-president of the University branch of UNICEF, working as an auxiliary nurse at the Queen's Medical Centre and officially holding the title of the youngest magistrate in Nottingham.

Amanda Rose, the British High Commissioner in Nairobi said: "The achievement of Alexander and his colleagues is outstanding and they have had to overcome numerous hurdles to achieve an incredible feat. Their self-sacrifice to better the lives of those less fortunate is highly commendable."

Alexander has set up a website, africanprisons.org, which documents the charity's development.


Jeff Randall

Jeff Randall (Economics)

Journalist and broadcaster

Jeff Randall became a household name and recognisable face after becoming the BBC's first Business Editor and appearing daily on our televisions screens on the corporations flagship news programmes.

The seeds of his journalistic career were sown at Nottingham and his first exclusive – an interview with football legend Brian Clough during a news blackout – was written for the University's student newspaper, Bias.

In between his student days and his BBC job, Jeff was Assistant Editor of Financial Weekly, City Correspondent of The Sunday Telegraph, City Editor, Assistant Editor and Sports Editor of The Sunday Times and Editor of the re-launched Sunday Business newspaper.

He went on to become The Daily Telegraph's Editor-at-Large, but left the post in 2008 to concentrate fully on his Sky TV programme, Jeff Randall Live, which is now broadcast as part of Sky News from Monday to Thursday. Jeff described his three years at Nottingham as the best in his life.

"I have a real affection for Nottingham, because it changed my life. I was a working-class boy from East London who had the dangerous combination of being completely unworldly, but believing he was very worldly. Nottingham made me realise my shortcomings, but it also gave me time to think about what I wanted to do. It was the place where I brought out what I wanted to do and gave me the skills to achieve the goals I'd set myself.

"No other institution has had the impact on my life that Nottingham has. It sounds gushing but that's how I feel."


Saira Khan

Saira Khan (Environmental Planning)

Entrepreneur, columnist, broadcaster and 'The Apprentice' runner-up

Although multi-millionaire business guru Sir Alan Sugar delivered the fateful words "You're fired" to Saira Khan, the series was the best thing that happened to her.

Saira shot to fame in 2005 as the runner-up in the first series of the successful BBC TV programme, The Apprentice. She was a highly popular contestant on the show and her non-nonsense, motor mouth approach enthused an army of adoring fans.

Her TV appearance launched her in the public eye and she has gone on to achieve a number of goals as a newspaper columnist, broadcaster and motivational speaker. She currently presents Beat the Boss for BBC Children's TV where she hopes to uncover the next generation of young business talent.

She is also the MD of her own range of luxurious baby skincare products under the name Miamoo, using only natural ingredients. She speaks at corporate events and in 2006 published her first book, 'P.U.S.H for Success'.

Saira's Kashmiri parents brought her up in a working class Nottingham household, working hard to give their children a better life. After finishing her first degree in Brighton, Saira's late father, who worked in the city's lace factories, had a vision for her.

"We lived in Long Eaton and every time we went into Nottingham, we'd get to the roundabout on University Boulevard and he'd point over to the University and say 'one day, you might go there'. He believed everything about the University was quality and I think he was right. I enjoyed my masters at Nottingham. The city is a great place, the University is beautiful and the lecturers were cool too."


Deng Yaping

Deng Yaping (Contemporary Chinese Studies)

International Table Tennis Champion and four times Olympic gold medalist

Originally from Henan Province in China, Deng Yaping enjoys superstar status in her homeland and in 1999 was named as China's Athlete of the Century.

After three years hard work at the University of Nottingham, she was awarded her Master of Research in Contemporary Chinese Studies in 2002; a ceremony which was broadcast to more than 400 million Chinese TV viewers via China Central television. She already had a Bachelor's degree from Tsinghua University.

The reason she is so revered? She is a legend in the sport of table tennis, having won the Olympic gold medal four times. When she retired at the age of just 24, Deng Yaping had won more titles than any other player in her sport.

She held on to the number one slot in world table tennis in a glorious reign from 1990 to 1997 and is a member of the International Table Tennis Federation Hall of Fame.

The biggest obstacle in her career was her own height. At 16 years old she was still only 1.49 metres tall and had been refused a spot on the national team, despite her considerable success.

She is a former member of the International Olympic Committee and has also served as the equivalent to a British Member of Parliament. She now serves as Vice Director of the BOCOG Olympic Village Department for the Beijing Olympic Games organisation.

In the lead up to the games in the city where she lives, she has made many public statements about the opportunities the games will give China to show a polished national image to the world.


Brian Moore

Brian Moore (Law)

Columnist, broadcaster and former England Rugby Union International

England's most capped and most eloquent (so he tells us) hooker first tasted success on the hallowed turf of Twickenham as a member of the University of Nottingham 1st XV in the final of the British Universities rugby championship.

Brian Moore won 64 caps playing for England and six more playing for the British Lions, but he also played for club sides Harlequins, Nottingham, Leeds and Richmond. He was probably most known for his combatative style of play which earned him the nickname of "pitbull".

He played in three Rugby World Cups including the World Cup Final against Australia at Twickenham in 1991. He was a member of the England squad that won grand slams in 1991, 1992 and 1995 and was voted Rugby World Player of the Year in 1991.

He went on two British and Irish Lions tours winning five caps. In Australia in 1989 the Lions won the series 2-1 and Brian was famously caught celebrating the following morning on Sydney Harbour Bridge doing aeroplane impressions.

Brian now commentates on the sport and heads up personalised tours of Twickenham. In 2003, he officially opened the University's new £1.4 million state-of-the-art fitness centre.




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